This article is written by Peg Stoudt RN, Health Calls Referral Liaison Team Leader
Today, 12 out of every 100 people in the US are 65 or older, and older adults are the fastest growing population. Simply living longer isn’t enough. Learning how to stay healthy as one ages is! It’s never too soon to adopt habits to improve your health, no matter your age. The facts are that we are aging from the moment of birth and there you have options to improving your health, at any age.
September is the National Healthy Aging Month, a national initiative to help people think more positively about growing older. Aging is an inevitable part of life & the more cheerfully we embrace the process, the easier life can be for ourselves & our families.
Healthy Aging is defined as the development & maintenance of optimal mental, social, & physical well-being in older adults. Healthy aging is certainly different now than it was for our grandparents. Today people are living longer than at any other time in history. Having good genes does help healthy aging but research has found how well one ages largely depends on each individual’s choices for a healthy lifestyle.
It is never too late to make changes that can help one live longer and healthier. No matter when you start, a healthy lifestyle can make a difference in how you feel and what you can do! So no better time to start than NOW.
Healthy Habits Tips to Improving Yourself:
1. Do NOT act your age or what you think your current age should act like. What was your favorite AGE? Picture yourself @ that age and be it!! That is positive thinking—NOT Denial & will truly help one feel great about themselves. TIP: Do not look in the mirror to determine how you behave. Decide your age; you choose!!
2. Be positive in your conversations and actions. When you hear yourself complaining or being negative—change the conversation to positive and you will feel a lot better & lighter.
3. Drop negative friends that complain and talk about how awful everything is. Distance yourself from those who do not have a positive outlook on life as they will drag you down! Surround yourself with energetic, happy, positive people & you will find you are happier and will feel healthier.
4. Stay active—Walk with Vibrancy. Walking is an ideal “heart healthy” activity. Walking only 30 minutes 3 times a week can help you stay fit, mentally sharp, strengthen bones, lift your mood, and lower your risk for falls!
5. Remember and practice what your Mom always told you. “Stand up straight” & knock off the appearance of a few years by doing so.
6. SMILE—it is true those who smile more are happier.
7. If you are feeling lonely—Change it! Pick up the phone-call a friend or neighbor & share how you are feeling. You can also journal—release those feelings through the power of your pencil. Take care of YOU by sharing with someone you trust to lighten your load. Consider volunteering your time to help others as this helps them and YOU conquer loneliness.
8. Make September the month for an Annual Physical Exam, Health Screenings, and vaccines. Vaccines to help keep seniors healthy include Pneumonia, Shingles, and the FLU.
9. Find your inner artist! Use your free time to find undiscovered talent. You may be pleasantly surprised what has been waiting to be discovered.
10. Eat a healthy diet (Low salt/Low fat/High fiber) to reduce risk of age related chronic diseases.
11. Maintain balance to prevent risk of falls. Report dizziness, balance changes, or changes in walking ability. Use a device to aid walking if recommended by your doctor or health care team for your safety & well-being.
12. Make sleep a priority to restore energy levels. The amount of sleep needed remains constant throughout your lifetime (7-9 hrs. a night).
13. Take a power nap & you are 37% less likely to die from heart disease. Short naps—no longer than 45 minutes are best!
14. Aid your memory and improve your personal organization by making lists and following daily routines.
15. Speak up and beat those blues if depressed. Approximately 1 in 5 older adults suffer from depression or anxiety. Both are treatable. Talk to your doctor! Denying or not talking about your feelings of anxiety or frustration can lead to anger & depression which can be toxic.
16. Establish and follow a routine for consistency in taking your medications as prescribed by your doctor. Promptly report any noted side effects.
17. Limit your intake of alcohol and quit smoking.
18. Count yuor blessings! You may not have control over how things are changing in your life but you can control how you deal with them. Things can always be worse. Have an Attitude of Gratitude—this works.
19. Accept the things you cannot change! Sometimes the only thing we can control is our reaction to people and life circumstances. Acceptance can free you, brighten you, & lighten you—TRY IT.
20. Stay Current—Deal with life on a daily basis. Empower yourself to take care of you each and every day.
21. Continue hobbies and or continue to find new ones. This keeps you young, active, happy, and productive.
22. Continue to set goals to achieve. Research has shown those with a clear sense of purpose and drive have a decreased risk for Alzheimer’s disease. One in eight people over 65 have AD. Maintain your brain health!
23. Maintain and grow your spirituality. Knowing there is always someone—a power greater than ourselves—out there looking out for us too is comforting.
And my personal favorite: Laughter is the very best medicine & the only medicine you can take as much as you want!
Consider adopting at least 2 of these strategies a month to develop healthy life long habits. Happy National Healthy Aging Month!!